ENGINEERING: The Tune For Dancing Trolleys
Recent Western Cape Business News
FESTO, a global leader in the supply of electronic and pneumatic automation products and solutions, has supplied Mercedes-Benz South Africa with four automated systems for clamping and releasing trolleys used to carry car seats on the company’s production line.
The contract was awarded to Festo as a result of a thirty-two-year business relationship in which Festo has consistently supplied industry leading solutions to MBSA.
According to Erwin Botha, responsible for factory planning at Mercedes-Benz South Africa, the system was delivered and installed successfully. “Once we awarded Festo the order, the components and engineers required for the installation were dispatched almost immediately.”
Festo installed and commissioned the systems after-hours, so as not to disrupt the Mercedes-Benz C-Class production cycle.
Festo has supplied ADN 50 compact cylinders, air pilot valves, VZ timers, air preparation units and foot valves for the implementation of each system. Each system controls a break shoe which allows the trolleys to be retained in position until required. Once a trolley is needed on the production line, it is released to travel down an inclined ramp. The trolleys move down the inclined ramp, acting under the forces of gravity, in a controlled fashion. Once the trolley reaches the bottom of the inclined ramp it is released as required, to provide trim for the corresponding vehicle unit.
“These systems work independently but parallel to each other, handling on average ten trolleys each any given time. If you watch all four systems in operation you get the impression that the trolleys are ‘marching’ or ‘dancing in unison’. This level of precision has improved both the safety of employees and reduced the risk of accidental damage caused by runaway trolleys,” says Neville Schwulst, Festo branch manager, East London.
Festo selected ADN compact cylinders for the application, as these provide significant advantages over other cylinders of similar dimensions. Schwulst explains, “The Festo range of ADN compact cylinders are manufactured to ISO 21287 standards and are 50% more space efficient than standard cylinders.”
“Even though the cylinders offer such a significant space saving they still provide the same amount of force as a standard cylinder. This makes the range ideal for applications where space is limited.”
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